How to Manage Full Waitlists

Here are the most common waitlist woes and solutions that enhance the overall experience for both you and your participants.
min read

Registration season is here! It’s hard to complain if your program is full, but managing a waitlist brings about a new set of challenges.

First and foremost, clear and transparent communication is key. By providing detailed information about the registration process, including what the wait times and likelihood of coming off the waitlist look like. Your community trusts you and wants to attend your programs, so it's important to keep them front of mind, even if the truth that they may not get in can be hard. Keep them updated with regular communication regarding their status and any changes in the process. It may even be beneficial to have a waitlist FAQ for folks to learn more. 

In order to effectively communicate with your families, ensure you have an efficient and streamlined process before opening up registration. A well-designed and efficient system includes thinking about the waitlist and procedures. Things to consider:

  • When will you start the waitlist? Once spots are full or when you hit 75% capacity? Consider starting it immediately to better manage families registering together and your demographic breakdowns if filling cabins or age groups. With ACTIVEWorks Camp & Class Manager, you can immediately start waitlisting before all the spots are filled.
  • Who will move off the waitlist first? A common need is getting a whole family in the same session. Will you allow a whole family to keep their unit together, even if there are people in front of them on the waitlist?
  • Will you keep the waitlist if the whole session is filled in case someone drops out? How will this be communicated? Will people want to wait to find out if they’re attending your program last minute? You will know what works best for your organization!

With both your team and your registrants, transparency and clear expectations are valued. Set clear expectations regarding the wait times and the possibility of movement off the waitlist. Consider adding in stats from the past about how many individuals were moved off the list before your program. This can give a clear idea to those waiting and communicates the benefits of being on the waitlist for the valuable program you're offering. 

Once your participants are on the waitlist, don’t leave them in the dark! Keep the list engaged through consistent updates to maintain their interest. Depending on your timeline, keep communication flowing to them once every two weeks so it's consistent but not a nuisance seeing your name in their inbox. When they make it off the list, how can you make it memorable? Consider a call to them directly and letting those in the waitlist know they’re “next in line.” 

You will need to keep the interest of those on the waitlist. Consider sending this list exclusive content or incentives, such as discounts or early-bird privileges. When working with children, remember that it isn’t their fault for being on the waitlist. Can you send them content relating to them having to wait and add in a few activities they can do at home that may be similar to the ones in your programs?

At the end of the day, you are working with those who want to be a part of what you’re doing. Be cautious that waitlists can become too automated, even with humans maintaining it. Don’t forget the communications you send out and the process you hold involves people and their experience. Providing responsive and personalized customer support to address questions and concerns is a great way to maintain customer (and potential future customer) support. Think about switching your communication mediums to offer space for those waiting to talk with you on a call or through text.

By addressing these aspects of the waitlist, you can create a more positive and efficient customer experience through the registration process. This leads to greater satisfaction and growing your organization with those who are excited to be a part of it.

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December 15, 2023
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